Southern California's best Division III soccer rivalry might have another chapter to be written this season.
No. 15 Redlands and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps are on target for a fourth meeting this season after both were included in the NCAA men's tournament field announced Monday. If they win their openers Saturday on the Bulldogs' Farguhar Fields, the showdown will be Sunday at 5 p.m.
Claremont (14-5-1) beat Redlands (18-3-1) on penalties to snare the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament title and its automatic NCAA berth, and Bulldogs coach Ralph Perez was happy to see his team's name in the bracket.
“It's the first time that I know of that [the SCIAC] has gotten two teams,” said Perez, whose team is unbeaten in 17 games and had a perfect regular-season conference record. “We don't get the kind of respect that we deserve. Last year I thought we should have been in -- we were 13-3-2 and won conference -- so to get in this year, we're ecstatic.”
Claremont has beaten Redlands in the conference tournament two years running, although this year's result officially goes into the books as a draw.
“We just happened to hit penalty kicks better than they did ...,” said Stags coach Dan Calichman, the former Galaxy captain, whose team lost both league meetings with Redlands. “They had a great year this year, but it's hard to beat a team three times.”
The game hinged on an overtime penalty kick, with Claremont goalkepeeper Ricky Doar denying Cody Carlson's would-be winner.
Both schools have work to do to set up another showdown. Redlands opens the tournament against Northwest Conference co-champion Pacific Lutheran (15-3-0), from Tacoma. Claremont faces Chapman (11-4-3), from Orange), in the second game Saturday at Redlands.
Perez, a veteran U.S. Soccer staff coach who has served as an assistant coach (and interim head coach) for the Galaxy (and provides analysis on the club's broadcasts), has an explosive team that has outscored opposition, 79-13, is led by Carlson (Burbank/Burbank HS), an All-American forward with 12 goals and four assists, and has a dynamic weapon off the bench with freshman Charles Izydorek (Redlands/Arrowhead Christian HS), who has 13 goals and six assists but no starts.
Carlson is the leader on and off the field.
“He's had another great year, even though he's a marked man, everybody doubling him up,” Perez said. “I know nobody is more excited than him [that we received an NCAA bid], since he missed the penalty kick in overtime. He gets a second lease on life.”
The forecast is for cold, wet weather, which favors Pacific Lutheran. The Bulldogs must lasso Lutes striker Spencer Augustin, who has 19 goals and eight assists in just 18 games.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps, which encompasses three of the five Claremont Colleges (although Scripps, a women's school, contributes no players to Calichman's side), is led by Doar, a senior from the Bay Area, and junior forward Harrison Doyle (Hidden Hills/Calabasas HS), who has scored 13 goals with four assists.
“Harrison is a good player, been all-conference a couple of years,” said Calichman, who came out of Williams College, a D3 power in northwest Massachusetts. “He's really turned it up a notch. He plays so, so hard, it kind of sends electricity through out team.
“And Ricky Doar ... against Redlands, the game was on the line, it's golden goal, second overtime, the refs give them a penalty kick, and the keeper saves it. How clutch is that? I'm hoping to see what you see in the NHL playoffs all the time, where a hot goalkeeper can get you pretty far.”
That each team's path to the sectionals goes through the other is rather fitting.
“It wouldn't be right if it didn't,” Calichman said. “There are no secrets [between us]. We don't have time to create different formations or make plays, we just go out and battle each other again. No other way to do it.”
LOCAL NCAA TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
San Diego (12-7-0) at UC Irvine (14-4-2), 7 p.m.
Long Beach State (15-5-1) at Pepperdine (15-1-4), 1:30 p.m.
New Mexico (12-4-4) at UCLA (15-1-3), 7 p.m.
Cal State L.A. (14-1-5) vs. Chico State (13-4-3) at Seattle Pacific, 4 p.m.
Cal State Dominguez Hills (12-5-2) at Seattle Pacific (13-3-2), 7 p.m.
Cal State L.A./Chico State vs. Cal State Dominguez Hills/Seattle Pacific at Seattle Pacific, 7 p.m.
Seattle Pacific (16-2-0) vs. Grand Canyon (9-5-3) at Cal State L.A., 7 p.m.
Seattle Pacific/Grand Canyon at Cal State L.A. (12-4-3), 1 p.m.
Pacific Lutheran (15-3-0) at Redlands (18-3-1), 5 p.m.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (14-5-1) vs. Chapman (11-4-3) at Redlands, 7:30 p.m.
Pacific Lutheran/Redlands vs. Claremont-Mudd-Scripps/Chapman at Redlands, 5 p.m.
Puget Sound (14-3-2) vs. Concordia-Morehead, Minn. (12-3-5) at Cal Lutheran, 5 p.m.
UC Santa Cruz (7-6-2) at Cal Lutheran (20-1-1), 7:30 p.m.
Cal Lutheran/UC Santa Cruz vs. Puget Sound/Concordia-Morehead at Cal Lutheran, 5 p.m.